It was an innocent Sunday morning. My wife, my two year old son and I managed to sleep in a bit before heading down to Chinatown to grab brunch before the 12:30pm Caps game against the Boston Bruins on Super Bowl Sunday. After stuffing ourselves on cinnamon buns and breakfast pizzas, we headed over to wait in line to enter the Verizon Center. We played with Backstrom's gloves in the team store and pointed out every Weagle we could see. Also, did you know Mike Knuble's sticks weigh twice as much as anyone else's? It's true.
Getting to the game early means being able to take our son down near the glass to watch warm-ups. It's a blast for him to see the players that closely. It’s also a great test of patience (his and ours) as the players don’t step onto the ice for a good 30 minutes after doors open. We played all sorts of games to kill the time: “watch the guys move the nets”, “look at all the Caps fans on the other side of the ice”, and “smile for the guy with the camera.” One puck was thrown onto the ice to look at, so we played the "point at the puck" game too. Then all hell broke loose.
For those who have never ventured down to the glass, the seats near the ice sit atop movable, aluminum bleachers. Unfortunately, these bleachers end about one inch from the boards, leaving a nice gap, like those found in many older elevators. It’s a gap just large enough for things to get dropped into, never to return. A game program. A cell phone. Car keys. A #68 jersey (just a suggestion).
These things = gold.
There are two looks given at the moment a binky is lost in this way: the one given by my son (“I dropped it dad. Please get it for me. Thanks. I love you.”) and the one I made (“OHHHHHHHH NOOOOOOOO!!!!!”). Tip: never let your child see you make this expression. They know what it means. It’s the equivalent of kicking them in the shins. The tears flow and the bawling is ear-piercing. Think P.K. Subban complaining for a penalty.
Now I like the idea of getting rid of the binky, but pulling the band-aid just before sitting around a bunch of people I don’t know well for a few hours is not my idea of a stress-free afternoon. Besides, I like the people in my section. If I knew I was going to have a screaming child for the duration of the game, I’d have found a section near a TON of Bruins fans. It was worth a shot to attempt to get that little plastic Grail out of that crevice. So I reached.
(You know that scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, when Kate Capshaw puts her hand into the wall and has to reach through all sorts of muck, bugs and horrid, horrid horridness to find the lever? I’m here to tell you that Steven Spielberg must have done his research for the film in the bowels of a professional sports arena. I'll swear till the day I die that the floor was moving.)
Yep. That's the face I made.
Don’t ask me how, but my arm fit into that fissure up to mid-forearm (the boards flex, so one inch became three). After reaching around for a minute, I touched plastic and managed to hook myself two hours of quiet hockey viewing (too quiet as it turned out, unless you’re a Bruins fan). Pulling it up and out was both a major accomplishment and a huge failure; that binky looked like Andy Dufresne after escaping from Shawshank. Think ‘the perfect blend of year-old beer, nacho cheese, and bleacher grease’ and you have an idea. I wish I’d have left it down there.
After about 30 minutes of scalding hot water and three gallons of soap and sanitizer, the pacifier was back in action. Our son slept through half the game and happily clapped and cheered through the other half… right up to the point when he decided to throw the binky 20 feet, on the fly, directly into the back of someone’s head three rows away.
That’ll teach the guy next to him to show off on the Dance Cam.
Needless to say Caps fans, if you're going to allow binky to Rock the Red, make sure it's securely tethered to something. The subject binky is now squarely settled at the bottom of our recycle bin where it belongs. My son threw it in himself upon getting home from D.C. Sunday afternoon. I guess it just wasn’t the same any more. It had seen things. Horrible things.
We’d been meaning to wean him off the thing anyway.